Our local farmer’s market is up and running, and already there are loads of gorgeous greens . This week, we tried something different (or different to us) and went with fennel. Sure, we’ve used fennel a handful of times and it’s a nice crunchy, surprise in salads or as a pizza topping. There have been a number of cool, rainy nights in our area though, so we opted for soup. Also highlighted – another spring green, spinach! This recipe is gluten-free and SOS-free. It makes about ten portions.
Springtime White Bean and Fennel Soup
1 red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 cups chopped fennel bulb and stalk, a few fronds reserved
1/2 cup plus 8 cups vegetable broth/stock (store bought or homemade)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1 bay leaf
1 15-oz can chopped tomatoes
1 block extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 15-oz. cans of white beans, rinsed and drained
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup fresh spinach, cut into ribbons
In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute chopped red onion, chopped fennel bulb/stalk and 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Saute, sitrring often, until onion is soft and wilty, about 5 minutes. Add 8 cups remaining broth, minced garlic, dried thyme, white pepper, ground sage, bay leaf and canned tomatoes with all juices. Cover soup pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until all fennel is very tender and flavors have combined to create a fragrant soup.
Remove from heat, take out bay leaf, and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, remove soup in batches and blender until smooth in a regular blender or food processor. Be sure to vent regular blender/processor, lest the steam from the hot soup builds up.
Once the soup is smooth, add chopped tofu cubes, rinsed beans and optional red pepper flakes. Simmer over low heat an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before serving, stir in spinach ribbons and garnish with reserved fennel fronds.
Cook’s Note: This soup is even better the second day!